When driving North on Interstate-35 into Oklahoma City, visitors could be caught off guard. As they travel up the highway and spot the sprawling Oklahoma River and state of the art boathouse facilities that line it, they will have to remind themselves they are in the middle of the country and not on the West Coast.
Since the first boathouse was built in 2006, the Boathouse District has grown in popularity with residents of Oklahoma and tourists. But with the additions of the $45.2 million whitewater rafting and kayaking center, the Boathouse District has made Oklahoma City one of the premier landing spots for national competitions, local races and just plain fun on the water.
“The OKC Boathouse Foundation (OKCBF) believes the Oklahoma River has the power to change lives and help Oklahoma City become a stronger, healthier community,” the OKCBF stated on its website. “In just a few short years, Foundation supporters have seen their vision come to life, as people of all ages and from all parts of the city have become involved in rowing, kayaking, dragon boating, running and cycling at the Oklahoma River.”
The top rowing crews from Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, New Mexico, Missouri, Nebraska, Colorado, Louisiana and Kansas converge on Oklahoma City for two days (May 7-8) to compete in the annual USRowing Youth Championships.
In 2016, the nation's best kayakers will be Oklahoma City for U.S. Olympic Trials, May 7-8. Athletes looking to earn a spot in the Rio Summer Olympics will compete at the newly built whitewater rafting and kayaking center in the RIVERSPORTS Rapids.
The annual Stars and Stripes River Festival combines the best of two worlds. The RIVERSPORTS Challenge has athletes not only taking on a 500-meter kayak race but a 5k run. The festival also includes corporate rowing and Dragon Boat League Racing at night under the lights. For spectators not competing, a free Family Festival with music and fireworks takes place.
The 2016 USA Canoe/Kayak Sprint National Championships features some of the best kayakers in the nation taking on each other on a world class 200 meter course. For four days (Aug. 3-6) competitors race to see who is the fastest sprinter on the water.
The Boathouse district isn’t just for world class competitors. With a variety of different passes offered at the Boathouse, visitors can take in the whitewater rafting, kayaking, tubing, rowing, sky trails and zip lines. Go call (405) 552-4040 or go to boathousedistrict.org to get more information on passes, gear and events throughout the year.
“You’ll never find a better weekend to experience all that the Boathouse District has to offer,” Mike Knopp, executive director of the OKC Boathouse Foundation, told canoekayak.com. “It will offer a taste of what the Olympics in Rio are all about, letting spectators see the nation’s top whitewater slalom athletes in action. They’ll also be able to watch rowing on the Oklahoma River and enjoy live music, great food and fireworks.”